October has been nothing but the bad news so far for DawgNation, but the end of this week is picking up a bit. Flip on that fountain of optimism for all things UGA in your gut this morning and feel a little bit better about things as another SEC East showdown approaches.
Missouri’s coming to town as the defending two-time SEC East champions, but a lot of other key personnel are to. What exactly does that mean? Well, that’s what the UGA Football Recruiting Rewind is all about.
The 5-stars are coming
The Alabama game was supposed to be the season’s most important game weekend for recruiting at UGA this fall. That’s when any prospect worth his star rating was supposed to be in town. Well, that’s not exactly the case anymore. It feels like this sentence is always being written when it comes to UGA football, but Missouri is the game nobody was expecting to be this big.
There will be at least a quartet of 5-star prospects in Athens for Missouri on Saturday night and two of those players will be on official visits. The nation’s No. 1 ILB and No. 3 defensive end will both check out UGA on their official visits. Both are from Alabama.
There’s also at least one UGA commit who has chosen this weekend for his official visit, plus two other 5-star in-state prospects that UGA must sign for this year’s recruiting class to reach its full potential.
Key UGA recruit cleared to return to his high school team
Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason were the first two members of UGA’s 2016 recruiting class. (Rob Saye / Special)
Ben Cleveland is easily one of the cornerstones of the 2016 class. Cleveland and 5-star QB Jacob Eason were the first two commitments in the Class of 2016 way back in July of 2014.
Cleveland had been placed in out-of-school suspension for the previous 10 days but got some good news on Wednesday. He was cleared to return to school for an unspecified incident and can now return to the Stephens County High School football team. He’d missed the past two games, but he will be dressed out and ready to play on Friday night.
Is UGA in the mix for the nation’s No. 4 CB for 2016?
There are a lot of names in the mix for UGA in the 2016 class, but an under-the-radar one has popped up. DawgNation.com’s Chris Kirschner spent some time with Louisiana cornerback Kristian Fulton recently. Fulton is rated as the nation’s No. 4 cornerback for 2016 and there’s only one other uncommitted recruit at his position who carries a higher rating.
What’s the latest with his recruiting? How does he feel about UGA? He told DawgNation.com that the staff has made him feel like a top priority. The 6-foot, 177-pounder also told Kirschner that he has no leaders at this point and plans a National Signing Day decision.
NASA or the NFL? 4-star Metro Atlanta LB could trend in either direction
Leonard Warner III is an impressive specimen among the Class of 2017. The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 9 LB for his signing class but he does more than pass the eyeball test. He also has UGA among his leaders.
Warner passes the tests that matter off the field. He’s an aspiring engineer with an interest in the aerospace field. He was recently accepted to attend a prestigious science and technology conference for high school students in Boston next summer.
His father told Dawgnation.com recently that his son could give up football and go to college just on his academic merits alone. Warner actually receives more mail for academics programs in college than he does for football. That’s impressive considering he’s considering offers from UGA, Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan and Stanford, among others.
Those schools need not worry. The 4-star recruit actually enjoys playing football. That’s not even a consideration for him right now.
Throwback: 1985 college recruiting < 2015 college recruiting
What’s the difference between college football recruiting in 1985 compared to 2015? DawgNation.com’s “Throwback Thursday” feature on former UGA tight end Kirk Warner allows us all to get into the DeLorean, hit 88 miles per hour and find out.
Warner is now the head coach at Liberty County in South Georgia and he’s been able to witness the intense recruiting battles for his former player Raekwon McMillian (now at Ohio State) and now his 4-star junior athlete Richard LeCoute III.
Digging for RB gold in California
We’ve got enough data on UGA runnings back coach Thomas Brown now to be able to ascertain his recruiting style. The former UGA tailback charges into recruiting and goes for it all no matter the distance. He’s already made a trip out to Texas this fall to woo a 4-star recruit. He’s got an eye on an 5-star all-purpose back in Maryland that currently claims UGA as his leader.
He’s also recently shipped out offers to two marquee tailbacks in California. Yes, California. Summit High School RB Stephen Carr is a USC commitment for the Class of 2017, but he recently tweeted out that he had picked up a UGA offer. The 6-foot, 195-pounder is the nation’s No. 3 running back prospect for 2017.
Sophomore T.J. Pledger also recently tweeted out that he had received an offer from UGA. The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder is rated by 247sports as the No. 4 running back prospect in the Class of 2018. UGA already leads for Zamir White in the Class of 2018. White is rated as the nation’s No. 1 running back for 2018 and also as the No. 2 overall prospect.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.
NextRewind: Recruiting trail offers hope that better days are up ahead